It’s been a week since the first reports surfaced the owners of the Sacramento Kings were selling to investor Chris Hansen and moving to Seattle. But after numerous conflicting reports, it’s looking more likely the Kings aren’t going anywhere, at least for the near future.
“I will tell you that the mood is as upbeat and positive as I can remember at any time including two years ago when it was announced that the Kings would not be moving to Anaheim and they would be staying in Sacramento,” said Kings play-by-play announcer Grant Napear in an interview with 710 ESPN’s “Bob and Groz.”
One day after Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson announced the NBA would allow him to present any counter proposal to the NBA’s Board of Governors, Napear said the former NBA star’s close relationship with league commissioner David Stern holds tremendous weight.
“I don’t think David Stern would have told Kevin Johnson you’ll get a chance to make a counter offer at the NBA Board of Governors meeting if he knew there was no chance.”
Johnson said Tuesday several deep-pocketed investors were willing to step up and buy the team from the Maloof family and keep the Kings in Sacramento.
And the head of entertainment giant AEG reaffirmed his company’s support to help build a new Sacramento arena if the Kings’ ownership situation gets settled.
AEG Chief Executive Tim Leiweke told The Sacramento Bee Stern and Johnson asked him to re-engage on the arena and “we haven’t changed our opinion about Sacramento or the arena.”
“To the commissioner’s credit, I don’t think he ever forgot about Sacramento,” he said.
Napear said over 65 businesses have pledged to sponsor the Kings if they stay in Sacramento and season-ticket sales have soared since the initial report of an impending sale. And he remains confident the city will ultimately prevail.
“It’s been pretty remarkable what’s happened here really in the last four or five days,” he said.
But what about the reported $525 million offer from Hansen and his group? Napear said the NBA won’t be able to turn down an ownership group featuring Hansen, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and several Nordstroms, and change its tune about creating a new expansion team for Seattle instead.
“I don’t think they’re going to be able to pass up what Seattle has presented. I think everybody around the league realizes that Seattle should have never lost their team and that’s a tremendous NBA market.”
While Hansen has reportedly sought to finalize a deal by March 1, the mandated league-deadline to file for relocation, Napear said with the NBA vowing to let Johnson make a counter offer and the Board of Governors not meeting until April, it’s likely the saga and all the unconfirmed reports will continue unresolved for the foreseeable future.